Meet the Maker – Shakira | Kreative Pursuit
It was fascinating talking to Shakira about her journey into craft from childhood with her nan and Great Aunt, the inspiration she finds in her Afro-Caribbean heritage and some wonderful advice that has filled us with hope.
Grab a cuppa and read on…
How did you first get into print design and embroidery?
My background is in printed textiles and surface design. I followed this pathway throughout secondary school, continued with fashion design and then university. Before that, as a child around 8 years old, my nan used to let me use her sewing machine to make hair bands and my Great Aunt would always help me sew things.
I’ve moved away from design in my search for my true purpose, exploring careers in holistic health, recruitment and teaching. Each time I moved away from creative roles, internally I was called back.
My last role was an Art and Design teacher and I really loved bringing out the creativity in young people, although it was really challenging. Before I left teaching I felt I had fulfilled that goal and it felt right to leave.
A friend had a craft studio and asked me to teach dressmaking so I thought “Sure, why not!”. It was the most fun! Teaching people who actually wanted to learn! I thought this is the way forward, and from there more opportunities came until I decided to go it alone, and I’ve never looked back since.
One day I will pull out all of my old school projects to share because I have so many, from trousers and bags to embroidery. I think in terms of embroidery I first remember exploring the technique when I was a teen. I used it to embellish a pair of trousers. I was obsessed with award ceremony outfits and wanted to recreate my own. Since then I would always spend my weekends in Berwick Street buying rhinestones and sequins with my pocket money so I could embellish my jeans.
Can you tell us how your first project went?
Stepping back into embroidery after many, many years was wonderful and like therapy. It happened naturally that I didn’t realise I was doing it. I designed a symbol inspired by ancient Egypt with the words ‘Become’. It symbolic to me because it marked a transitioning for me towards becoming stronger and acknowledging my growth, becoming an mum of two boys and stepping into my acts of creativity which are within me.
My son was about one and I would put him to sleep and then take my sewing out. It was really something I looked forward to in the evening, plus I was remembering stitches that I hadn’t used for ages, stored in my brain bank of memories.
I remember feeling so full when I finished and just wanted more, so straight away I was designing new patterns to embroider.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from my heritage and wanting to have images around me which connect to who I am. My grandparents are from the Caribbean, and it became important to explore and show a sense of pride who I am.
I realised that I had grown up in a world where at home being Afro-Caribbean was always a really proud thing but outside of that you really wanted to fit in – this meant shrinking that pride and adopting more British behaviours and values to feel accepted within institutions or peer groups.
My aim is to pour as much self love into my designs possible to compensate for the amount of shrinkage I’ve done as a result, and that means embracing and exploring my Caribbean and African roots.
What do you love most about the process?
The process of making and designing can either be the best or the worst experience dependent on your relationship with perfection and control. When I think of myself as a young creator when I was a teenager, my mind was so much more free and willing to go with flow and I could accept failures very easily and I’d recover quickly.
Now, my practice is so much more conscious because I’ve developed fears and self limiting beliefs which through the years have impacted me by stopping enjoyment of making or fear of failing. So when I create now it’s a process of understanding myself and trusting my intuition and allowing that to guide me through to completion.
I love this process of learning because I find out something new about myself each time and that is so valuable for growth.
What would be your best advice for those starting out?
My advice is to just do it! Get creating and make it happen! Thinking about it and procrastinating can be a hindrance because we can give ourselves a thousand reasons why something won’t work.
Just take a small step each day doing as little or as much as you can. Don’t get too bogged down with not having special equipment unless you really really need it. Sometimes this can also stop you from starting because we convince ourselves that we need shiny new tools when we have some lying dormant in a box somewhere.
Don’t be intimidated by other people’s creativity by thinking yours won’t be as good. You have your own special talents to share which are unique so get creating and share those amazing talents with all that love you.
What’s next for you, any upcoming projects you’re working on?
There is so much I plan on doing from long awaited craft kits, new craft tutorials and blogs, a book and more workshops and my list continues. I need to remember there is just one of me but I can do it! I’m excited and really hope it’s all well received.
Right now, I working on a collection of beanie hats with a brand which will launch in Spring, and also working with LoveCrafts.com on more tutorials and my blog. I have a collection of craft kits which I’m working on branding and fine details, they should launch in early spring too.
Everything is so busy despite world events and I am so grateful for all the love, support given to me and all the opportunities and amazing teams I’m working with. I am blessed.
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